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Emigrant Wilderness 2012

Emigrant Wilderness

August 13th - August 18th, 2012

47.0 miles
7500 vertical feet
42 hours, 18 minutes
Rating: 8/10

Directions: From Sonora, take Highway 108 east past Pinecrest. Turn right onto Kennedy Meadow Road (you'll see Baker Campground on your right). Follow the road and turn left into the free paved Kennedy Meadow parking area. This is about a half mile before the end of the road (the road ends at Kennedy Meadows Resort).   View Driving Map

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After last year's 5-day trip in the Desolation Wilderness, I started looking for a suitable 6-day trip, with most days in the 7-8 mile range, and a max of 9 miles or so. I was really interested in doing the South Lake to North Lake trip in the eastern Sierra, but eventually decided it was a bit too much for the kids at this time. I eventually turned my gaze toward the Emigrant Wilderness, which we'd visited (before kids) about 11 years ago. Then I worked out all the distances and climbing and created a route mostly like the one we eventually hiked (with a couple small exceptions).

One of the nice things about hiking in the Emigrant Wilderness (as opposed to the Desolation Wilderness) is that, while permits are required, there are no quotas. This means that you can drive up, visit the ranger station, and get a permit the day of your trip.

Since our last backpacking trip, we made a few adjustments to our gear. First off, I decided we would need a lighter tent. We got the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4, which is similar in size to our Pine Island 4, but weighing in at 7 pounds (tent, rain fly, poles, stakes, and ground cover) instead of 12. Offsetting this was the fact that we had to get a larger pack for Nathan (and Jared would use Nathan's old pack), and we had to bring a third bear canister to carry the extra food we'd need.

About 2 1/2 weeks before our trip, I'd ordered a Bearikade Scout. Unfortunately it didn't arrive in time. In fact, when I called close to our trip, I was told the parts needed to make it weren't even in stock right now. They apologized and gave me a refund, and I made a last-minute REI trip to grab a Bear Vault Solo of about the same size (although 5 ounces heavier).

We bought all the food we would need in the days leading up to our trip. We ran through the checklists and put everything into the car on Sunday afternoon, leaving the Bay Area around 4:30pm, headed to our motel in Sonora. I suppose you could just leave in the morning and start hiking the same day, but I'm not a morning person so that's pretty difficult for me.

When we arrived in Sonora around 7pm, it was still 100 degrees outside! Also, since it was a Sunday night, we had a hard time finding a place to eat - many places in the old downtown area were closed. We did find one restaurant, though it turned out not to be very good.

After dinner, we returned to our motel and mostly finalized our packs. I was too tired to fill the Camelbaks, so a final weigh-in would have to wait until tomorrow.

1Kennedy Meadows to Relief Reservoir 4.51310390
2Relief Reservoir to Emigrant Lake 9.02320780
3Emigrant Lake to Huckleberry Lake 6.94401440
4Huckleberry Lake to Wood Lake 7.21280850
5Wood Lake to Upper Relief Lake 9.91460950
6Upper Relief Lake to Kennedy Meadows 9.56903140

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